Sammy the Seal – the Wicklow resident whose ‘fishing trips’ keep going viral

Why did the seal cross the road? To get to the fish shop on the other side.

That’s the regular scene in Wicklow in Ireland, where Sammy the Seal gets fed three times a day. He also goes viral on the web when unsuspecting visitors stumble upon him.

This week was the latest occasion, when a picture captioned “Just witnessed this giant seal being chased out the door of a fishmongers shop in Wicklow town” by Dublin-based DJ Derek Byrne spread like wildfire on the web.

Derek Byrne (@Derek1052)

Just witnessed this giant seal being chased out the door of a fishmongers shop in Wicklow town. pic.twitter.com/WGlGxlAWfs

November 22, 2017

The eagled-eyed, though, will spot that the photo also includes an improvised sign that says “seal crossing”, giving away the fact that the sighting was not a one-off.

Sammy the Seal has been a regular visitor to the Fishman for fishy treats since 2012, and the town has adopted him as a mascot. You can even buy T-shirts bearing his name to show you have spotted him in action.

One of the ‘I saw Sammy’ T-shirts available in Wicklow. Photograph: Wicklow Seafood Festival/Facebook

Chance encounters with Sammy, though, can spark a renewed media frenzy. The seal previously went viral in 2016 after a video was posted showing staff trying to control him crossing the road with a plastic chair. RTÉ News featured the seal in 2014.

Sammy the Seal crossing the road in 2016. Photograph: YouTube

Alan Hegarty, from the Lighthouse Restaurant and the Fishman shop the seal frequents, stresses that Sammy is not tame. In an interview he told the Visit Wicklow organisation: “People have the tendency to think he might be tamed, but he is not tamed. At the end of the day he is a wild animal and we want him to remain that way.”

Since posting his tweet on Wednesday, Byrne has been deluged with more than 1,000 replies. “I’m not a huge fan of puns and if one more person tells me his bloody name is Sammy! I went to sleep last night cursing that seal.”

There has been one upside to all the humour though, Byrne says: “My father-in-law has enough joke material to get him through Christmas.”

Sammy the Seal has obviously read the sign. Photograph: Sammy the Seal/Facebook

As more than one person pointed out on social media, if you put a massive sign saying “Fresh fish” by the side of the water, it is obvious the kind of clientele you are likely to attract. Sadly, despite having his own Facebook page, Sammy the Seal was unavailable for comment.

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